Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Indicted Patton aides will appeal

Charges relate to finances in 1995 campaign

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Four men charged with breaking election laws in Gov. Paul Patton's 1995 campaign will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review their cases, a defense attorney said Monday.

The Kentucky Supreme Court upheld their indictments in January. The group includes two of Patton's top aides - chief of staff Andrew "Skipper" Martin and labor liaison Danny Ross. Also charged are two longtime Teamsters - Lon Fields, who was president of Local 89 in Louisville, and Robert Winstead, the local's former secretary-treasurer.

Attorney General Ben Chandler alleges they colluded to help the Patton campaign get around campaign spending limits by having the Teamsters pick up some expenses, including Ross' salary.

The defendants claim the campaign-finance laws attempted to restrict free speech and were unconstitutionally vague. The state Supreme Court agreed in part, especially about parts of the law prohibiting communications between candidates and groups that might want to spend money on their behalf.

But the court said the indictments were not dependent on those "unconstitutional aspects" of the statutes.

Ross' attorney, Phillip Shepherd of Frankfort, said a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case could be filed by Wednesday. The defendants' main argument is that "parts of the law the court said were unconstitutional ... were the very definitions of the statute," Shepherd said in a telephone interview.

Chandler previously said he would press for a trial date as soon as possible and would oppose a defense request for further review. He was not available for comment Monday.

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